One of the worries I've read lately re: Portland is that we're shifting the narrative away from racial justice.
The fact that we're going apeshit over a predominantly white group of moms is a strong indication that those worries are right.
White people have two jobs in this space, according to the majority of racial justice and black liberation leaders going back to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. You donate your wealth, or you get between the cops and the protesters and do the chin-up-mouth-shut act.
At no point can you expect or SHOULD YOU ACCEPT a pat on the back. And any publicity you bring with you thanks to your whiteness needs to be immediately focused on the BIPOC organizers in your presence. They're there. Find them.
This is NOT your fifteen minutes of fame.
Any white person who uses their whiteness to do what those moms did is doing right. Protect the vulnerable, whether they're vulnerable due to size and age, or vulnerable because the cops are much more likely to shoot them in the back then they are you.
Any white person who uses their whiteness to do what those moms did and is interviewed for it and doesn't IMMEDIATELY AND EXPLICITLY point to racial justice as the reason for their actions and relinquish their camera time to BIPOC protest organizers is doing it wrong. This is not your fifteen minutes of fame!
The fact that we have put the white navy vet and a whole bunch of predominantly white moms front and center in the news for days shows us the media is uncomfortable maintaining the public understanding that these are protests against white supremacy. This may have something to do with the fact that the white supremacist power structure is highly visible and deeply entrenched in the news media, even the liberal news media. For example, Bari Weiss and Brett Stephens are usually gainfully employed, in spite of their being Bari Weiss and Brett Stephens. Jokes aside, if the media can frame this as less of an issue with white supremacist power structures, and more a shallow issue of some big mean cops shooting some nice moms with gas that makes moms cry--how could you make moms cry?!--then so much the better.
But the outrage here is not about some big bad cops teargassing some moms.
This is about 400 years of brutal oppression by a white power structure that is even now sending the modern equivalent of slave catchers into cities to commit terrorist acts meant to scare us into submission.
We are seeking racial justice that has been denied by a complex white supremacist power structure that is a lot of things:
Obviously a white supremacist ordering federal troops into Portland to crack down on protests against white supremacy is an example of a white supremacist power structure.
But it's also a white woman--Jen, from twitter, have you seen? Her tweets, O god, are making the rounds--a white woman not believing the smoke in the air is teargas, even as she watches the canister roll towards her moms-link-arms human wall, because she can't believe her government would do such a thing, even though it's happened multiple times in the last five years.
It's a dad who comes to the protest with a leaf blower to get rid of tear gas, now, because his wife is protesting, not before, when it was, what, just another racial justice protest? Where was that giant obnoxious fan machine last week, Chuck? Cleaning up the side yard? Hey, how is Portland these days, Chuck? Have you considered that maybe a video of you calmly leaf blowing your peaceful suburban yard while the president says "Portland is under seige" might actually be more beneficial to more people than anonymously leaf-blowing a protest?
Hell, the white supremacist power structure is evident in the fact that Tamir Rice was murdered by the cops for holding a toy gun but Leaf Blower Lou thinks nothing of carrying a leaf blower into a smokey protest in front of federal troops. That's not a white person thinking their whiteness will protect them, this dude is probably skinvisible in a scene like that! He did that because he has *never* considered that the police might mistake his leaf blower for a weapon. It's not a thing he has to worry about.
White folks, the one message I see repeated more than any other regarding what we need to do now is, "Donate, put your bodies in harm's way to protect the people more likely to experience police brutality because of the color of their skin, and do not expect praise, because you deserve none, because many of you are *400 years late to the protest.*
I'm happy these moms are doing what they're doing.
But white folks who are 400 years to the party--I include myself in that statement--need to be conscious of only using the spotlight to spotlight BIPOC who have been doing this work their entire lives.
I don't want to discourage any white people from getting involved. And I probably won't, because my readership is probably at least 50% my mom. Hi Mom!
But in case that's wrong, I want to be clear that if I'm discouraging you, white reader, by saying you can't seek applause for doing what we all should have been doing years ago, then you need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why you're doing this in the first place.
Are you doing this to establish a just society, even though that will necessarily mean that you will lose power, wealth, and ease of upward mobility, because sharing equally means more for those who have less and less for those who have more, and *we are those who have more?*
Or are you doing this solely so that you can say you were on the right side of history?
I'm glad for these moms linking arms. And, frankly, the leaf blower is a creative way to use one of my least favorite human inventions.
But never forget that the aftermath matters just as much if not more than the act itself.
Don't believe me? Remember: In the aftermath of the Civil War, we got the 13th and Jim Crow. And in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act, we got the War on Drugs.
The aftermath decides the new status quo.
Right now, the aftermath dictates that we're going to be seeing a lot of press about white saviors in the coming months.
But we can always do better.
The character that is the combination of an exclamation point and a question mark is called an 'interobang.'
Why haven't I been writing? Because I'm publishing two books, which are now on sale, applying to a graduate program in creative writing at University College, Dublin, packing and preparing to move to New Zealand for six months, and selling off all my belongings. What have YOU been doing with YOUR life, hotshot?
Oh, wow, you had a baby? That's amazing.
Oh, gee, look at that little person. Hi there, you. Aren't you something. Jesus, he really looks exactly like the both of you at the same time. How is that possible? Hi, guy. You're beautiful. Hi! Yeah, you! Oops, you threw up. Well, that happens.
Hey, great work, you two. Really. Wow. Congratulations.
Anyway, what the hell have the REST of you been doing that's so fuckin-
christ, you had a baby too? What the hell is this? What was going on nine months ago?
Oh, yeah. I remember that. I got drunk and went for a walk in the woods.
Yeah, no, you guys just had a bunch of sex. I figured. I mean, I figured you did it at least once. Yeah. Makes sense.
Yeah, so what have the REST of you-
You're getting married?
BOOKS ARE OOOOOUT!
What do you think is happening in Lake Woebegone now that Garrison Keillor has packed it in and gone back to his home planet? I'd like to think that without Keillor's folksy wisdom to keep them in check, those above-average children are going to invent doomsday weapons and overthrow their strong mothers and good looking fathers, and Lake Woebegone will become something like Ender's Game meets Children of the Corn.
That, or it'll be an epic showdown between technologically superior, heavily-armed above average children and hulking, nigh-unstoppable strong mothers, with the good-looking fathers as the damsel-in-distress figure threatened in the middle. Rugged, capable midwestern farmers in tight, dirty Levis and ripped flannels, their dairy-fed muscular torsos heaving as they try to get enough wind to continue screaming as their irradiated powerhouse of a wife rends steel and titanium asunder in an attempt to get inside the mechanized powersuit designed and worn by her misbehaving above-average eight year old.
I suppose there were probably strong women and good looking men in Woebegone who weren't parents, but if I had to guess, they left town as soon as the first quiet, nerdy little boy with a polish surname and an irritating precocious affect came lumbering out of the garage in a fifteen foot tall ambulatory tank powered by extraterrestrial elements. I mean, I would.
Been building the books nonstop the last week or so, and I think I'm finally ready to bust down an agent's door and hold them at squirrel-point until they agree to take over my book-building and publicity responsibilities. Jayzuz, I hate this shit. I mean, I don't hate it totally, but I definitely want to get rolling on the next book, which is in the planning stages and needs another seven or fifty hours of stoned-out brainstorming barnstorm work. I just sent in a proof order for the Origami Man reissue, so that's that. I think I get to do some of my chosen creative crap later on this afternoon. Holly looyah.
Covers are looking amazing. First one is done, I just plopped it across the Origami Man page. Tom McGrath does some amazing work, I must say. Check him out here, he's really something.
Saw the debate last night. I have a working holiday visa for New Zealand, I have a fresh passport and some money, and Diane is running around in those hills with my kidney, so I suppose now is as good a time as it'll ever be for me to hit the far side of the planet for a while. I'm excited for a change, I just wish that I didn't feel increasingly like there this country is nipping at my heels, trying to get me to leave. It was cute when I got my new passport in less than a week. It stopped being cute when I watched Trump in the first debate, and it turned into something like a microwaved suppurating guinea pig when I saw him last night. Motherfucker needs to get darted in the neck by animal control.
To paraphrase a quote from the great Jack Nicholson, "This [country] needs an enema!"
You should piss on your neighbor's lawn.
You should stand in the shadow presented by the opposing streetlights, where you won't be seen
and pee on the base of his trees.
It doesn't matter.
What matters is being able to do the tiny bad things.
You should do the bad things
as long as they don't directly impact another person's life.
DO the thing.
Fuck as hard as both of you want.
Take ecstasy and go to a Neil Labute play.
Piss on your neighbor's lawn.
Do the bad things.
The trivia link is up. There's nothing there, but there is a delightful picture of Ham the Chimp, the first ape to be launched into orbit. I like the picture, because it speaks volumes of the intelligence of animals. Ham definitely knows something big is about to happen. And he definitely has misgivings about it. In fact Ham is definitely considering hopping out of that space-chimp-container and hightailing it for the nearest bar. But there's always the possibility that Earth will explode while he's in orbit, and that he will ride the shockwave to a new planet where the sunlight gives Ham powers far beyond those of normal chimps. It's not a likely scenario. But he's willing to take the risk.
There are some non-functioning links on the navigation bar. This isn't an accident. This is by design. You haven't unlocked those pages yet. You need the Star Key. Try looking in the dungeons below. But beware! There are monsters lurking in the depths......
You ever open up your website and there's like, more cobwebs than not cobwebs? And then you inhale some of the cobwebs when you're groping for the light switch, and you start coughing and a lot more cobwebs fall on you and you wonder all of a sudden if 'cobweb spiders' are a thing, and then you fall on you ass and you're covered in cobwebs and you realize none of this actually happened, because web sites are just digital images on a screen, and however terrifying they might be, cobweb spiders can't live inside a flat screen?
But if you're reading this on an old school CRT monitor, watch out. Cobweb spiders.
Been editing my ass off lately. That's a clever way to tell you that bikini season is coming, and I've been hitting the squats hard.
Wait, no, I'm talking about writing. I've been editing the book. Still on track to release the sequel sometime in the next several months, although given that advertising is a thing I have to do, I may delay the release in order to foster interest. Foment? Fricassee. I need to fricassee interest in my book.
But I am editing. And the editing goes well. I just haven't been on my hustle, lately. Jay-Z would be disappointed in me. He might even say I've been knocking the hustle, even though presumably you can't do that. He might, however, tempter his disapproval with some recognition of my grind. Been grinding on this book like Beyonce grinds...the heads of screws down when she's refinishing her deck. She's got kids running barefoot, nobody wants their foot cut open on a rusty screw. Nobody is putting a ring on that.
This is the view from where I am:
This is where I live, now. This desk. Typical day is wake up, edit until I start having fantasies about running away and joining the Marine's Circus (they have SEALs) go to the gym to remind myself I live in a world populated by people who aren't just extensions of myself, then go to work and make those people drinks. Rinse, repeat.
It's not surprising to me that I chose to do this. What surprises me is the degree to which I am compelled to do this. If I had done anything else, if I were a lawyer, or a sanitation worker, or a professional killer, I would still be telling myself stories in my head. I'm still doing it, even as I work on The Adventures of Gregory Samson, Space Explorer. I'm coming up with other stories, writing them down, putting them aside for later, like a squirrel hoarding nuts that fall out of his ears.
That would be one confused, happy squirrel. I suppose that's me. A happy person, confused at their luck.
I'll update this when I have more to say. In the meantime, my idiot twitter feed and utterly narcissistic Instagram feed will most likely remain idiotic and narcissistic, respectively, and sporadically amusing.
Hemingway never had to run his own god damn twitter feed.
So I've just finished reading through A Farther Orbit, the sequel to The Origami Man, and let me tell you, it's
Heh-HEY there, America, and thanks for stopping by for another edition of Ben Needed Something For His Blog Trivia! I'm your host, the interchangeable Id, Ego and Super-Ego of Benjamin Mumford-Zisk, here to tell you that tree pollen is the number on killer of Americans under ninety-nine, so don't forget to spay and neuter your houseplants!
I have this team that shows up a lot of Sundays who call themselves them Muffdivers. They sit in the corner and yell "Muff Die VERS!" every chance they get. They get a lot of chances, cause they're like twenty-one and go to college, so they're used to going after every opening they see. I also pause a lot. I think they might be scared of silence. They're great.
Hey, we're gonna do our super secret bonus round! All these questions fit a theme, and if you can tell me what the theme is, I'll give you five extra points! Well, I won't give them to you, I'm not scoring this and I'm actually a figment of your imagination!
I'm not wearing underwear.
I don't have a body.
2.2 SUPER SECRET BONUS ROUND
Didja GET IT?
Man, I didn't. I never do. And they won't give me the answers until after the commercials, cause ONE TIME I made a few bets. Never gonna let me forget that, ARE ya, Ernie? No, I'm not gonna let it go, my goddam knee pops every time I sit down!
Because they broke it!
Because I couldn't pay the vig, ERNIE.
Bill? I thought he was a Mormon?
They can lapse?
Huh. Learn something new every day.
All right, folks, I'm betting there's a lot of one and two point responses to that last one, we'll be back with answers, after this!
Where's my cigarettes?
Yeah, I did quit, there's a key bump in there.
It's been a long year, Ern.
Well, Marsha left, and I think she wants a divorce, I dunno, I'm having panic attacks every–
"Well, no, I just don't think we can trust someone like her in the White House."
"She was Secretary of State, dad. And I mean, even if you don't like her, what about Bernie-"
"Oh, don't talk to me about that socialist. I mean, I haven't made up my MIND to vote for Trump, but..."
Does this happen to you? Do you find your family holidays ruined by off-the-rails conservative elements in your family? Are you tired of mentally compensating for loved ones who veil racist, misogynistic or culturally suicidal sentiments behind vaguely-articulated political dogma? Then PrickOff is for you!
Prickoff is a medical-grade corrosive substance bound up in a viscous antiseptic and anesthetic solution that can be swabbed on to the unevolved members of your family to quickly and painlessly burn them away. PrickOff works in minutes, and cleans up with water!
So next time Gramma starts talking about the Thugs in the White House, or Uncle Frank tells you he supports Donald Trump's plan to bomb Agraba, don't nod and smile and add to your ulcer! Reach for the PrickOff, and Make America Great again!
PrickOff. Remember, there's a chance that gold-mopped psychopath could win, so the more of these morons we keep from voting, the better.
BLOG BLOG BLOG BLOG
Listen a dude can only stand so many goddam hours driving a keyboard a day, so I'm gonna keep this brief.
HI THERE NEWCOMERS!
I'm hard at work and hard at work on the sequel to The Origami Man. It's called A Farther Orbit, and it's all the weird stuff Samson gets into after he bugs out of Earth to keep the bugs off Earth. There's murder and mayhem and a hell of a lot more fun alien nonsense, along with a lot of grownup themes.
That's my way of saying there's a lot of swearing, a complex plot interwoven with themes of loss, acceptance, and understanding of a person's responsibilities in life, and also a thorough discussion of Cab's potential as a sex toy.
Anyway, I'm reading it through ahead of the final round of edits, and I'm hoping to have it on the stands by April 25, when I turn 30!
This is because if I don't have a second book published by my thirtieth birthday I lose my birthright to Mumford-Zisk Manor, and the title shall go to my half-brother, Percival. He's a furry, and I won't have him yiffing around Mother's rose garden.
Anyway, keep an eye on my twitter and instagram and all that horseshit, because a good friend of mine just told me that I needed to learn to whore myself better.
No, I'm positive she said 'whore yourself.'
Hustle? I'm supposed to hustle myself?
That doesn't sound anything like 'whore yourself!'
Well I don't know where I got 'whore yourself,' Gerald.
Oh, go shove your Freudian slip up your ass.
Christ. Take it from 'anyway.'
Anyway, keep an eye on my twitter (@mumfordzisk) and instagram (also @mumfordzisk) and my tumblr (firstname.lastname@example.org) for updates on A Farther Orbit and all the rest of The Adventures of Gregory Samson, Space Explorer!
Oh, fuck off we're live.
We're really live?
God damn it Gerald.
The unkempt thoughts of Benjamin Mumford-Zisk